Grant Gerlock


Grant Gerlock started covering Des Moines and central Iowa for IPR in March 2019. Before that he covered food, agriculture and rural life for Harvest Public Media at NET in Lincoln, Nebraska, where his work was recognized with a Regional Murrow Award and awards from the Midwest Broadcast Journalists Association.

Grant has a master’s degree in mass communication from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and graduated from Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa. He grew up on a farm outside of Cumberland in southwest Iowa where he listened to public radio in the tractor.

Grant’s favorite public radio program is Fresh Air.

Ways to Connect

John Pemble / IPR file photo

The Iowa Department of Human Services must expand mental health treatment at the Boys State Training School in Eldora, a state-run school for delinquent teenage boys.

A federal judge is also ordering staff members at the facility to limit the amount of time residents are placed in isolation and to no longer use a physical restraint device called “the wrap,” which U.S. District Judge Stephanie Rose equated with torture.

Charlie Neibergall / AP Photo

Iowa businesses, school districts and citizens continue to respond to the escalating COVID-19 pandemic. We'll be posting updates as more news regarding the spread of the virus in Iowa becomes available here for the week of March 29-April 4. 

Restaurants are no longer serving dine-in meals, like Nosh in Des Moines. They are providing carry out and to-go meals with limited hours.
John Pemble / IPR file photo

The number of unemployment claims in Iowa spiked last week as businesses closed their doors to help slow the coronavirus outbreak. In one week, ending Saturday, 41,890 Iowa workers filed new unemployment claims – including those who work in Iowa but live out of state.

Brett Levin / Flickr

Iowa schools are sharing resources for families to keep students engaged while classes are cancelled to prevent the spread of COVID-19, although district officials caution they are not meant to replace lost time with teachers.

The campanile on the Iowa State University campus.
Flickr / Alex Hanson

Updated on Thursday, March 12. Iowa's public universities are moving classes online from March 23 through April 3 as part of their strategies to contain COVID-19. The campuses at the University of Northern Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Iowa will remain open, including residence halls and dining halls. 

Drake University in Des Moines is asking students to stay home after spring break and attend classes remotely through at least April 3.

Go here for more on how universities are responding and the latest updates on COVID-19 in Iowa.

Original post on Tuesday, March 10: Iowa’s public universities are preparing to offer all classes virtually in order to stop the possible spread of coronavirus on campus. The Board of Regents is asking the campuses in Ames, Iowa City and Cedar Falls to share their plans by Thursday morning.

Iowa Capitol
John Pemble / IPR file

Republicans in the Iowa Senate have passed a bill that would require a portion of the state’s Medicaid recipients to work in order keep access to health coverage.

John Pemble / IPR file

State lawmakers are behind schedule when it comes to passing funding for K-12 education. Republican leaders in the Iowa House and Senate still have not come to an agreement on how to reconcile their competing proposals.

State senators Jason Schultz, R-Schleswig (left), and Nate Boulton, D-Des Moines, listen to testimony about a proposal to require work for some Medicaid recipients.
Grant Gerlock / IPR

Updated Thursday, February 20: The Labor and Business Relations Committee advanced a Medicaid work requirements bill (SSB 3158) Thursday, making it eligible for debate in the Iowa Senate.

John Pemble / IPR file

An Iowa House subcommittee has passed a bill that would allow college athletes to earn money from endorsement deals, despite concerns raised by university groups that it would add to a growing patchwork of state laws.

John Pemble / IPR file

Republicans in the Iowa Senate are advancing a religious freedom bill that opponents say would weaken civil rights protections. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SF 508) would raise the legal threshold to enforce a state or local law when a person says it violates their faith.

kim reynolds
John Pemble / IPR file

This story was updated at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12. 

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said Wednesday she can't comment on a lawsuit brought by former staff of the troubled state-run Glenwood Resource Center for severely disabled residents.

Iowa Capitol
John Pemble / IPR file

An Iowa House subcommittee passed a bill (HSB 615) Monday that would prohibit local ordinances from being stricter than state law for gun accessories such as high capacity magazines.

The wide-ranging proposal also states that if local governments ban weapons at public buildings, they must also provide screening and armed security.

Natalie Krebs / IPR

Democratic caucus frontrunners Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg have requested the recanvassing of a total of 85 Iowa caucus precincts. 

Monday was the deadline for campaigns to request a recanvass, which is narrower than a recount and involves rechecking the precinct worksheets. 

Troy Price, chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, addresses reporters in Des Moines to explain the delay in releasing the initial results of the 2020 Iowa Caucus.
Grant Gerlock / IPR

Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price apologized Tuesday afternoon for technical problems that caused a long delay in reporting the first results from the Iowa caucus.

John Pemble / IPR

The head of the Iowa Democratic Party says the party is manually verifying the results of Monday night’s first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses. 

iowa capitol
John Pemble/IPR file

A bill advancing in the Iowa legislature (SSB 3080) would encourage schools to set aside space for students who threaten violence toward teachers and classmates.

Schools will sometimes clear out a classroom when a student has a dangerous outburst. Under the bill advanced by a Senate subcommittee Thursday, those students could be placed in “therapeutic classrooms” to address behavioral problems.

John Pemble / IPR file photo

Under a proposal moving ahead in the Iowa Senate, the Department of Human Services would take extra steps to confirm the eligibility of people receiving Medicaid and other forms of public assistance. The bill (SSB 3068) requires the agency to adopt a computer system to search state and federal databases for unreported income and other assets.

Sen. Jim Carlin, R-Sioux City, listens to testimony at a subcommittee considering a constitutional amendment raising the threshold for passing an income tax increase.
John Pemble / IPR

A proposal advancing in the Iowa Legislature would amend the state constitution to make it more difficult for lawmakers to raise income taxes. The amendment would require any income tax increase to be approved by a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate.

John Pemble / IPR file

A bill that would allow county attorneys and assistant county attorneys to apply for professional weapon permits is taking a step forward in the Iowa Legislature. With a professional permit they would have the same authority as security guards and private investigators to carry a gun in most places where firearms are banned.

John Pemble / IPR file

A proposal that would further protect the identities of children who are sexually assaulted or exploited is moving ahead in the Iowa Legislature.

Under the bill (SF 2005) from Sen. Dan Dawson, R-Council Bluffs, assault victims who are kept anonymous during criminal trials could also have their privacy protected during related civil lawsuits. Also, a person who was abused as a minor would be able to hide their identity from the public if they report the incident to law enforcement as an adult.

Maj. Gen. Benjamin Corell addresses lawmakers in the Iowa House Chamber.
John Pemble / IPR

The adjutant general of the Iowa National Guard says he is focused on keeping up recruiting and training as the state prepares to deploy more soldiers overseas.

Currently, about 100 soldiers and airmen are mobilized with U.S. forces. Speaking before Gov. Kim Reynolds and state lawmakers Thursday, Iowa Guard Maj. Gen. Benjamin Corell said he expects around 2,000 more to deploy in 2020 with units supporting command centers in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Lawmakers gather in the House of Representatives chamber at the Iowa State Capitol.
John Pemble / IPR file

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds is proposing to raise the state sales tax by one cent as one of her legislative priorities for 2020, but she wants it to be offset by a cut in income taxes.

Grant Gerlock / IPR file

The State Auditor’s office says it cannot determine whether home health care claims are being paid properly under Iowa’s privatized Medicaid system because data provided by the Department of Human Services is inaccurate and inconsistent.

Clay Masters / IPR file

With the 2020 census coming up, local groups are reaching out to populations that may have been underrepresented in the 2010 count. Dozens of Iowa cities, towns and nonprofits have set up Complete Count Committees to tell residents about the census, how to fill out the form and how it could impact funding from federal programs.

Grant Gerlock / IPR file

The former director of operations at the Metro Waste Authority in Des Moines is being accused of making at least $1.8 million in improper payments, including nearly $1.2 million to a shell company he created.

Bakken oil fields in the winter.
Geof Wilson / Flickr

Dakota Access wants to nearly double the amount of oil flowing through its pipeline across Iowa, but first the Iowa Utilities Board must approve an amendment to the company’s pipeline permit.

Clay Masters / IPR file

The U.S. EPA is increasing the amount of renewable fuel that must be used by oil refiners in 2020, but Corn Belt lawmakers and farm industry groups said the agency is violating an agreement they reached with President Donald Trump aimed at making up for refinery waivers that undercut demand for ethanol and biodiesel.

Doug Neumann (right), executive director of the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, explains the legislative priorities for the Iowa Chamber Alliance which includes the 16 largest chambers of commerce in the state.
Grant Gerlock / IPR

A group representing Iowa’s largest chambers of commerce is urging lawmakers to take steps to grow the state’s workforce and restructure the tax system in the next legislative session.

Iowa has one of the nation’s lowest unemployment rates, and businesses often struggle to find qualified workers. According to Dustin Miller, executive director of the Iowa Chamber Alliance, many people stop looking for work because they can’t find, or afford, childcare. He hopes to see a push to focus economic development programs on improving childcare access and quality.

Phil Roeder / Flickr

Democrats running for president in Iowa are working to get teachers in their corners on caucus night. Teachers are a coveted voting bloc because they show up in numbers and are well-organized.

Iowa has around 40,000 elementary, middle and high school teachers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Mack Shelley, a political science professor at Iowa State University, said teachers’ unions across the country have been flexing their political strength.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds
Grant Gerlock / IPR file

Physicians from the University of Iowa will go to the Glenwood Resource Center to review residents’ health and their treatment charts, according to Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds.

The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating allegations of mistreatment at the center operated by the Department of Human Services, which cares for Iowans with intellectual disabilities. A Des Moines Register investigation revealed that state employees repeatedly raised concerns over an increase in injuries and deaths there.